DURING SPRING and summer months, the Palouse region of southeastern Washington bustles with caravans of shutterbugs. Photographers from around the world flock to the region each year for a chance to capture the fertile palette of the Palouse—a feast of gold, sienna, and green with endless rolling hills, craggy geological effigies, abandoned barns, and aging farm equipment. It is a landscape photographer’s mecca.
Palouse local Jack Lien, owner of Palouse Country Photo Tours (fourseasonsphototours.com) and a shooter with more than 30 years of landscape and wildlife photography experience, spends his days shuffling these amateur and professional shutterbugs around the Palouse’s rolling hills, and offering them an insider’s view of the region, along with some lessons.
Spring and harvest tours—slated for June and August respectively—are popular among photographers for the opportunity they present to capture the colors of the region’s fertile landscape, and the farmers who cultivate it, though custom tours and workshops may be arranged year-round for those interested in shooting something else altogether. Six-person tours, which include one-on-one instruction, typically span five-days with shoots beginning as early as 4:30 a.m. in order to capture ideal light.
On such tours photographers have the opportunity to click away at a vast array of subjects ranging from sunrise on Steptoe Butte to ripening canola fields, from rustic barns to crop dusters. With a reverence for the region’s still-functioning agricultural lifestyle, Lien guides his clients along miles of well-examined back roads—often more than 100 miles per day—providing some surprising vantage points, such as riding in a combine or wheat truck during harvest, along the way.
The mileage pays off with the end result. Photo tours in the Palouse can offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience, netting participants thousands of photos, and often one heck of story. —HEATHER CARO
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EVER SINCE LEWIS AND CLARK paddled down the Snake River back in 1805, word has been getting out about Southeast Washingtons splashy outdoor scene.
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